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Sunday February 17, 2008Softball Adds Two Wins for Best Start in School History

Gainesville, FL

The No. 10 Gator Softball team is off to the best start in school history after two wins in the final day of the Cox Communications Classic on Sunday. The Gators defeated North Carolina (8-2), 1-0, and Stetson (6-4), 8-0, to improve to 13-0 on the season, bettering the 11-0 start by the 2005 squad.

 

The first game came down to the ninth inning. The Gators used timely hitting in their half of the inning and heads up defense in the bottom half to win the game 1-0 over North Carolina (8-2).

 

Due to international tie-breaker rules, junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) as placed on second to start the inning. She advanced to third on a junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) sacrifice bunt. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) knocked a double to right center and was thrown out trying to stretch the double to a triple, but now before Waleszonia crossed the plate for what would be the game-winning run.

 

Christine Knauer started on second for North Carolina in the bottom half of the inning. Danielle Spaulding led off the inning with a base hit to right field. Knauer rounded third and headed for home only to be gunned down at the plate by senior right fielder Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.). Spaulding advanced to second on a wild pitch and Whitney Allen drew a walk. Anna Roberts hit a hard ground ball right to Florida third baseman sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) who stepped on the bag and fired the ball over to junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) to try for the double play. The Gator defense just missed the double play and Allen was able to advance to third. The Gators took care of the final out though as Lisa Norris grounded out to Brooks at third and Gardiner stretched to receive the throw and end the game.

 

The two teams were knotted at 0-0 going into the ninth. The only time prior to the international tie-breaker rule taking effect in the eighth that either team was able to push a runner beyond second was in the seventh when the Gators loaded the bases on two walks and a base hit with two outs.

 

Florida had the first hit of the game, a double by sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) to lead off the second inning. That was the only hit the Gators would have until the seventh inning.

 

North Carolina scattered five hits in the game, getting hits in the second, third, fifth, sixth and ninth innings.

 

Junior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) went the complete nine innings for the Gators, striking out eight to improve to 6-0 on the year. Norris took the loss for North Carolina, her first of the season.

 

Game two proved to be more successful for the Gator bats as they defeated Stetson 8-0 in five innings.

 

Hilberth drew a one-out walk to get the Gators started in the bottom of the first inning. Paculba reached on a fielderís choice as the Hatters threw Hilberth out at second. Enea hit a single to left. Paculba scored on a Gardiner base hit through the left side for Floridaís first run of the game.

 

The Gators used a big third inning to take a 6-0 lead. Waleszonia led off the inning with a bunt single. Hilberth reached and advanced all the way to third and Waleszonia scored on a throwing error by the Stetson pitcher. Paculba singled through the left side to score Hilberth. Enea was hit by a pitch. Gardiner earned her second RBI of the game with a base hit to left center to score Paculba. Ratliff walked to load the bases. Following a strikeout, freshman Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) reached on a fielderís choice and Enea was thrown out at home, but the bases were still loaded. A two-RBI base hit from Brooks plated the final runs of the inning.

 

Floridaís final two runs came in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) led off the inning with a base hit and fellow freshman Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Calif.) came in to pinch run for her. Bruder knocked a double to right center for her first collegiate hit to score Austin for the 7-0 lead. With one out, Waleszonia drove a base hit up the middle, plating Bruder and ending the game by the eight-run rule.

 

Freshman Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) gave up only two hits and struck out four in her third shutout of the season to improve her record to 6-0. Amanda Lindsey took the loss for Stetson after giving up the first six runs before being relieved by Nicole Peltz for the final inning.

 

Florida will face Hofstra in a single game at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Kids 12 and under are invited to stay after the game and run the bases with Alberta. All fans can stay after the game for a post-game autograph session with the team. The game will be shown live on GatorVision online. Live audio will be available on GatorZone.com via Yahoo.com

 

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